Packers Beat Bears, Win NFC North Division Title
Green Bay left for the windy city in hopes of beating the Chicago Bears and locking up their 2nd division title in as many years. The Packers and Bears are the oldest rivalry in football and the two teams have a lot of history and Sunday’s game was a memorable one; for the Packers. Green Bay has dominated their NFC North opponents winning 12 straight games coming into this matchup. Bears head coach came to Chicago in the hopes of revitalizing the rivalry between the two and he did for the first few seasons. Smith and the Bears were 7-3 from 2004-2007 but since then he is 2-8 and lost the last 5 games against the Packers coming into this game, including the playoffs.
Chicago started the 2012 season off red hot going 7-1 in their first 8 games and their only loss was a 13 point game in Green Bay. Chicago have hit a midseason slump that they are unable to pull out of and after this 21-13 loss to the Packers they have dropped 3 straight games and 4 of their last 5. The Bears have fallen from the driver seat of the division to hovering near playoff contention. If the playoffs were to start this week, as of now the Chicago Bears would be on the outside looking in. The fact of the matter is as Denny Green would say “we are who we thought they were” and we think that Jay Cutler is a whiny punk. Clay Mathews came back from injury and continued his punishment of Jay Cutler sacking the Bears QB twice and celebrating one with a little dirty dancing.
A lot of the blame can go to offensive coordinator Mike Tice and his inability to have any productive play-calling but Cutler is also to blame. Chicago’s offense was nothing but pathetic going 0-9 on 3rd down, 0-1 on 4th down and accumulating just 190 total yards. Jay Cutler found Brandon Marshall for a touchdown in the 2nd quarter but the two only connected on 6 passes for 56 yards. Cutler was 12-21 with 135 yards, 1 touchdown and a terrible interception that completely changed the game. Jay and the Bears had the ball with less than 2 minutes left in the first half near midfield when Cutler was picked off by Packers rookie CB Casey Hayward, his 6th of the season. The pick left the Packers and Aaron Rodgers enough time to get downfield and score taking the lead before halftime and eventually increasing that lead on the opening drive of the 3rd quarter.
Cutler has been terrible against the Packers winning just 1 game in 8 attempts throwing for 1702 yards, 9 touchdowns and 16 interceptions in those matchups. In the two games this season against Green Bay Cutler is 23-48 with 261 yards, 2 touchdowns, 5 interceptions and being sacked 11 times. What may be more surprising is that Brandon Marshall had just 8 catches for 80 yards and a touchdown in those two games, no wonder he was begging or should I say “challenging” the Packers into covering him man-to-man. For as bad as Jay Cutler has been against the Packers, Aaron Rodgers has been the polar opposite against the Bears.
Aaron Rodgers would find James Jones for a touchdown 3 times in this game against the Bears and has now thrown 19 touchdowns against the Bears in 10 career games. Rodgers has an 8-2 record against Chicago completing 69% of his passes for 2486 yards, 19 touchdowns and just 6 interceptions. Rodgers play is the difference maker for Green Bay and as Aaron goes, so goes the Green Bay Packers. A-Rodge continued his success against Chicago going 23-36 for 291 yards, 3 touchdowns, 0 interceptions and just 3 sacks despite his disheveled offensive line. James Jones had just 2 catches for -1 yards in the first game against Chicago but this week he was the beneficiary of some precise throws from his quarterback. Jones was targeted 7 times and caught 5 balls for 60 yards and his 3 touchdowns gave him the NFL lead with 12 touchdown receptions on the year.
It wasn’t all good for Green Bay though as Mason Crosby missed a field goal for the 8th straight game. He missed from 43 and 42 yards out and is now 14-23 on the year, yet head coach Mike McCarthy reassured the media yet again that Crosby will not be losing his job. That seems like a recipe for disaster and I can already see the playoff disaster that awaits. If Crosby is unable to mentally prepare for what should be chip shot field goal attempts, how can the Packers rely on him to kick a clutch field goal under the bright lights of the playoffs? I thought that McCarthy would come out and admit they need some help, after he had his team go for it on 4th down in the 2nd half rather than attempting another mid-40’s ranged field goal.
Despite the challenges Green Bay faces with the Crosby situation they did lock up the NFC North title and have now won the division in back-to-back years. It might be difficult to swallow but it seems like that early season “loss” to the Seahawks is really going to affect seeding for the postseason. As of now the Packers sit at #3 in the NFC but if Seattle can knock off San Fran at home next week and the Packers win out, Green Bay could get a much needed bye. Chicago still has a good chance to make the postseason playing on the road at Arizona and Detroit to finish the year. The way things are going the Packers could stay where they are seeding wise and welcome the Bears as a 6 seed to Lambeau Field in the Wild Card round of the playoffs. The way things have been going for Green Bay against Chicago lately they should be avidly cheering for such a scenario.